§ Mr. W. THORNE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what method has been adopted in assessing the Armour, Swift, Morris, and Sulzberger beef companies to Income Tax under Section 31 of the Finance Act, 1915; what is the total sum paid by the four companies for the year 1167W 1916; and whether, as this Clause was distinctly included in the Act to prevent evasion by non-resident companies and individuals, he will present an Annual Return to Parliament of all companies or persons whom it has been necessary to assess on a percentage of their turnover in England, and the amount of the percentage and total of the assessment in each case?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The Commissioners of Inland Revenue are precluded by law from furnishing any information relative to the Income Tax assessments upon particular taxpayers, but my hon. Friend may rest assured that due steps are taken to secure proper assessments in the cases to which he refers as in other cases.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade whether he has noticed the recently published balance sheet of the Swift Beef Company, of Chicago, recording a business turnover of £115,000,000, and a net profit of £4,093,000, and that of this profit only a million is distributed to the shareholders, while three are carried to reserve, making the company's reserve fund over £12,000,000; whether he has noted increases of capital by Armour and Company, of Chicago; that both companies propose extensive operations in Queensland and New Zealand at the termination of the War; that the Armour Company have engaged the Australian stock expert, Mr. Kingdon, to act on their behalf in New Zealand; and whether, in view of the domination obtained by the American Beef Trust in Argentina and the methods used to crush competitors, he will at once open communication with the Colonial Governments with a view to maintaining as a permanent institution the present Government control and management of Australasian meat supplies, and ascertain from those Governments what suggestions they can offer as to Imperial assistance in developing their meat supplies during the period which will follow after the War?
I must refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to a somewhat similar question on the 14th February.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has noted that Armour and Company (Australasia), Limited, have, as a first step in the application to New Zealand of the methods applied by them in the Argen- 1168W tine Republic, acquired the meat export business of Mr. A. L. Joseph, of Christ-church, who was the largest individual frozen-meat operator in the Dominion; whether he is aware that most of Mr. Joseph's shipments were consumed by the civilian population and were handled in Smithfield Market by a British firm, and that at this juncture the control of any portion of our food supplies should not be permitted to pass from British hands to that of foreigners; and, seeing that any profits earned in commission for the sale of such goods are easily assessed to war taxation in the case of a British firm but only with difficulty in the case of a foreign firm, and in view of the fact that Armour and Company (Australasia), Limited, has been floated in the midst of a great war, will he say if any alteration in the handling of consigned goods on this side will be made as a result of this company's operations?
All the frozen meat exported from New Zealand is the property of His Majesty's Government, on whose behalf it is purchased by the Dominion Government. The arrangements for any sales for civilian consumption here are in the hands of the Board of Trade, who propose to retain the services of the British firms hitherto employed to handle this meat.